McErlean heads stateside

Posted: March 28, 2021 1:20 PM - 587 Hits

McErlean heads stateside for Hyundai Motorsport Customer Racing Junior Driver debut

McErlean heads stateside for Hyundai Motorsport Customer Racing Junior Driver debut

Posted: March 28, 2021 1:20 PM

Current Motorsport Ireland Billy Coleman Award winner Josh McErlean will kick-off his year as a Hyundai Motorsport Customer Racing Junior Driver in the United States, as he tackles the Dirtfish Olympus Rally on 24/25 April.

Joined by regular co-driver Keaton Williams, the young pairing will make their debut across the Atlantic, tackling the event in a Hyundai i20 R5 as part of a two-car Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy entry. Fellow Academy member Callum Devine will join them at the event.

Thanks to the efforts of the Team Ireland Motorsports Foundation and the Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy an opportunity became available to contest the forest event, which is based near Seattle, Washington and will mark McErlean’s first event in America and his first under the Hyundai Junior Driver banner.

The 21-year-old from Kilrea, Co.Derry will use the opportunity to gain precious seat time and preparation ahead of a planned assault on the FIA European Rally Championship opener, Azores Rallye which takes place at the beginning of May.

“I thought I had used up my quota of amazing opportunities over the last 12 months or so but this is truly a unique chance to experience rallying on the other side of the world and gain some valuable experience outside of my comfort zone,” said McErlean.

“I`m still letting my Hyundai Motorsport Customer Racing Junior Driver place sink in and have been busy firming up plans for our season. There is a great team behind the Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy who can really introduce opportunities and this is one of those occasions that I`m relishing. I`m very excited to see what the sport is like over there.”

The Hyundai Motorsport Customer Racing Junior Driver announcement earlier in March gave McErlean, his team and the Motorsport Ireland stakeholders a boost to morale during the enforced downtime in the first quarter of 2021.

“Contesting the Olympus Rally means I get mileage in the Hyundai i20 R5 on gravel and coupled with it, a wealth of experience on a new surface and type of event. It’s great to be able to get seat time at the moment which means we should be able to hit the ground running when we get our European Rally Championship campaign underway” he continues.

The Olympus Rally is a qualifying round of the American Rally Association National Championship and offers 12 stages with a whopping 140 competitive miles on gravel, around three-times the distance of a British Championship round. A wide variety of surfaces from tightly packed roads to loose gravel will be in store and McErlean believes tackling new events such as this is a valuable tool in his career and season ahead.

“I’ve always wanted to push the boundaries in my career and contest new events. Adapting to those challenges make you a much better athlete and the Olympus will certainly be nothing like I`ve ever experienced before. It’s mega exciting and I can’t wait to get over there and see what we can do. I’d like to thank Enda McCormack for the use of his car and hope we can return his faith in us with a positive result for the Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy.

“It's a very busy few weeks ahead as we will fly straight from America to the Azores, which means we will be very fresh heading into the first round of the ERC, a very exciting prospect”.

McErlean’s plans for the remainder of the season will be released in the coming weeks.

McErlean lands Hyundai Motorsport Customer Racing Junior Driver place

Posted: March 9, 2021 12:29 PM

Reigning Motorsport Ireland Billy Coleman Award victor Josh McErlean has been selected by Hyundai Motorsport Customer Racing to become a member of their world-famous Junior Driver initiative in 2021.

The 21-year-old from Kilrea, Co.Derry has piloted a Hyundai i20 R5 throughout the 2020 season, securing impressive results across Europe including a career-bolstering seventh place in WRC3 at the final round of the World Rally Championship, ACI Rally Monza despite his lack of experience at world-level.

Now, thanks to his performances on the European stage and professional approach to the sport, McErlean will become one of six rally drivers chosen to be members of the Hyundai Motorsport supported initiative which will allow him to tap into the vast know-how of the World Rally Championship elite manufacturer team.

“This is such a huge honour to be part of the Hyundai Customer Racing Junior Driver programme,” says McErlean.

“It’s been a very hard twelve months for so many of us but this is one of the moments where all the hard work, dedication and faith that I`ve had in my abilities over the past five years of my career years has finally been realised. This of course is not just a special moment for me, but for all those that have supported me on my incredible journey so far and in some ways, it’s only just beginning”.

McErlean has enjoyed a strong relationship with the Hyundai brand since winning the Junior British Rally Championship in 2019. After a brief test with the Alzenau based squad, he was launched into an impressive R5 debut, contesting Britain’s round of the WRC, Wales Rally GB with support from the British Championship and Hyundai Customer Racing.

That bond grew stronger still, with outings at Monza Rally Sprint, the Cambrian Rally and Rally di Alba, all behind the wheel of an i20 R5. A short campaign in the FIA European Rally Championship reaped rewards with a result just outside the top ten on his debut at Rally Hungary. A strong result at Rally Islas Canarias followed before a career-defining drive at ACI Rally Monza in the WRC3 category landed him a top-twenty overall result.

With the continued challenges of the pandemic forcing a later start to the season than planned, McErlean has ensured the downtime has been productive and has his sights set firmly on his 2021 campaign.

“It really is phenomenal to have the support of a Junior Driver programme run by the 2020 World Rally Championship winning manufacturer” continues McErlean.

“It’s not been all about my performances on the stages. The encouragement, support and opportunities that the Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy, John Coyne and the Billy Coleman Award has provided and continues to provide is pivotal on my progress up the ladder and this recognition from Hyundai Motorsport Customer Racing really harnesses that support.

Undoubtedly, 2021 is going to be my most important year to date and we have to maximise this opportunity and make the most out of the resources we have at our disposal. I am in a privileged position and I`m confident we can bring everything together and make it one complete package.”

Andrew Johns, Hyundai Motorsport Customer Racing Operations Leader said: “In the event where he ran with the Hyundai i20 R5 Josh proved he is a very capable driver in all conditions. However, he also showed an incredibly professional approach to his rallying.

“Taken together this is exactly the combination that we look for in those selected to join the Customer Racing Junior Driver initiative. With the additional support of Hyundai Motorsport Customer Racing joining that of the Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy I am sure that Josh will have another strong season in 2021, can continue to build his motorsport career.”

Previous Junior Drivers include former Billy Coleman Award winner and Motorsport Ireland Rally Academy team member Callum Devine, with McErlean joining Hyundai i20 WRC driver Pierre-Louis Loubet, WRC2 contenders Ole-Christian Veiby, Oliver Solberg and Jari Huttunen as well as Belgian Championship regular Gregoire Munster on the programme this season.

Topics: - 

Classified Ads

 Add a Classified

 All Classifieds

Twitter Feed